I’ve now spent more time than I want to admit with Guild Wars 2 over these past two weeks and feel that I have done enough to be able to judge it accurately.
Guild War 2 is a very hard game to review because it’s the first game that is set to completely change the MMO market. A market that previously has remained very static with little change, so it’s no small task ArenaNet has chosen to tackle.
Now there are some things that GW2 does masterfully, and some not so much. Let’s start with the best part: no subscription fees. You buy GW2, and that’s it. You’re set to play it as much as you want and as long as you want. Previously MMO’s used to require a $14.99 fee every month to login and have you account active, but no longer. ArenaNet are moving towards to a new age of less fees, more microtransactions, and you know what? I am liking it. There simply isn’t any need for subscription fees and they have held me back from several MMO’s in the past.
The world of GW2 feels far more alive than any other MMO I’ve played. Not only is it due to its beautiful graphics and attention to detail and the fact that everything feels hand made, it is because of the quests and events that are out there. You actually see the events unfold without having to go to an NPC and pick them up and then go through them alone. It is a vital change that was desperately needed in the MMO world. Previously people were fighting for mobs and bosses and got angry if someone “stole” your mob. In GW2 that is all gone and in fact, encourage to help each other as both get credit. A phenomenal idea that every single MMO should introduce.
If we continue to the music, oh my, it’s simply godlike. This game has amongst the very best of soundtracks that I have ever heard. Like I mentioned in my earlier posts, I lowered the mater volume and maxed out the music volume immediately on launch day because I knew it’d be this good. It’s definitely in the classical genre if you want to label it. Some might not like it, but that’s OK. I love it.
Player versus Player in GW2 exists in two areas. First one is regular or structured PvP as we know it. Battlegrounds in WoW and Warzones in The Old Republic. And I must say that this was what I looked forward to the most. In my previous MMO’s I truly loved PvP and did more of it than was considered healthy. In GW2 however, it’s the exact opposite. I hate it. I am never having fun and I freaking hate that downed state and think it’s the shittiest featuer ever added in an MMO. It’s so annoying it’s beyond belief. I mentioned the annoying factor of missing out on the satisfying killing blow due to the fact that every class has a knockdown feature in their downed state and so on. It’s real shit. It’s so bad I haven’t touched PvP in over a week have zero intentions of doing so.
The second area of PvP in GW2 is the World vs. World vs. World. It’s massive. In fact, it’s too big. At first the hype overwhelmed me and now that I’ve gotten cooled down and got to examine it more thoroughly, I can say it’s a let down as well. It can be summarized as “standing outside gates and banging them down”. It’s really the majority part of WvWvW, unfortunately. The gates have too much health, it takes too long to break them down, there are too many of them, the world is too big, and when you die you have to run for like 10-15 minutes depending on how far off you were as there are no checkpoints whatsoever except the one. Now, I am all for harsh penalties when dying, but this is just plain bad. Star Wars did it perfectly with Ilum after adding valor rewards to it. In GW2, it’s just too big and unappealing for me to enter it. Oh, and there’s still an hour+ long queue to enter it two weeks after launch. Not cool.
The combat mechanics (apart from the downed state) are really impressive I must say. Compared to the recent MMO’s I’ve tried such as Star Wars and Tera, GW2 outshines them greatly. What’s the secret? Well, I’m glad you asked. There are two secrets to this. One is the dodge mechanics that allows you to dodge incoming attacks by, yeah that’s right, dodging. Of course you can’t do it all the time, but it’s a great feature that adds tactics and reaction requirements in combat and especially in explorable mode dungeons where some bosses cannot be defeated without you dodging at the right times. I freakin’ love this feature and cannot imagine playing without it. The second one is casting spells is possible to do while running. Duh, right? Why doesn’t every single game do this? I don’t know. But imagine casting your fire ball and running at the same time, what an incredible feeling huh?
What about endgame content? Also known was gear progression, raids, and dungeons and even more in some games? Unfortunately, most of that is nonexistent in GW2. Let me tackle on thing at a time. Raids are completely gone and replaced with these world events that exceed a large number of players at all times almost. I mean, when I was level 20 I killed bosses with more people in GW2 than I did in raids in SWTOR. So that’s one thing, but the problem with that is that there is no gear progression or set collection from that. Instead, GW2 throws in explorable mode dungeons that are the equivalent of “heroic dungeons” or “hard mode” dungeons that reward you with tokens and then you can be set gear that is purely cosmetic as it doesn’t transfer over to sPvP, only WvWvW and PvE. Now this has offset a lot of players, myself included. There are around 10 dungeons that you have to beat on first story mode to unlock the explorable mode, and that requires teamwork and skill to complete to get the tokens. These tokens require such an insane and stupid amount of grind that I just wanted to cry. I had to grind Citadel of Flame for five hours to get one piece. After that I said “never again” and I have no intetion of grinding it out like that for more pieces as I find it ridiculous in 2012 to be forced to play the same content for over 50 hours if you want the whole set – no matter how cool it looks. It’s not that it’s “hard” to get the gear, it’s the monotonous grind that bothers me. I loved the fact that it took me three months to get my set in WoW through Molten Core runs, but that was exciting and fun as I didn’t grind the exact same content for 5 hours every day. It was progression and excitement on weekly basis. In here lies GW2’s biggest weakness. Player want progression in gear and raids, and GW2 doesn’t offer it. It’s a real damn shame.
Are the dungeons challenging? Yes. Some of them are very difficult and the removal of classes such as “healer” and “tanks” is an interesting move, but a move that I don’t like. It still causes confusions as I was playing with an elementalist that thought he was the “healer” and ruined the dungeon for us as it doesn’t work like that in GW2. I liked the old traditional roles and wouldn’t them back again, it worked very well in SWTOR and WoW for me. Some of the dungeons are beautiful and with really cool bosses, some of them are pathetic and embarassing. Take the final dungeon with the last boss of GW2, Zhaitan. It was the most pathetic and dull ending you could ever imagine. I am not going to spoil anything from a story perspective, but that fight was an embarassment to video games. It was the worst ending I have ever seen. True shit. What was ArenaNet thinking when making the final boss go down like that?
GW2 adds some really nice surprise elements that are, in my opionion, the best part with the game. What am I talking about? Vista hunting and jumping puzzles. There are beautiful vistas that are quite tricky to get and they are very rewarding and a fun change of the grinding and killing. I collected all vistas I could in the areas I liked and it was a nice shock as I usually hate exploring the world, but not in Tyria. Another brilliant feature is the one of jumping puzzles. These hidden treasures offering very dificult puzzles and require very good jumping skills. I have done quite a few of them, not nearly all of them but I love ’em. They are so fun to do and one of the best things about GW2. Now whether or not that’s “interesting” or sad, I don’t know, you be the judge.
I have logged way over 100 hours into GW2 and though that is nothing in terms of MMO’s, I feel like I am almost done. I will login from time to time to do the last dungeons I haven’t, and to try out a few bosses in explorable mode and eventually collect a few more vistas and do more jumping puzzles. But that’s about it. Nothing else interests me in the world, and many of my friends have already “grown tired” of the game as it’s just too different. I mean $59.99 for over hundreds of hours of enterainment is a good deal, but not for an MMO.
Another thing about GW2 that some might find very frustrating is the skill lock. You are locked to the weapon choices you have and those are your primary attack skills. You do not get to modify them at all, only the last five skills that are more of buffing spells and tactical skills. This is very frustrating coming form games with 30+ skills to choose from, and even though you probably only use 10 of those 30, it still makes a bit difference and adds to variety. In GW2, you see a guys weapons, you know pretty much exactly how that fight is going to play out which I am sure could be boring for some players. I am not particularly fond of it as well.
Waypoints are placed all over the world for your discovery and these points allow for instanenous fast traveling around the world, which is great. They are quite expensive now as inflation hasn’t struck, but it’s a nice touch that saves hours on traveling. However, it’s not without cost. It removes that feeling of “open” world as zones in GW2 are instanced and you have to go through a loading screen everytime you switch zones. What made World of Warcraft so darn epic to me was that feel of knowing that it took me 15 minutes of traveling from Orgrimmar to Molten Core and how the world felt open. I rode on my mount from South to North and knew exactly what zones would be where and how the world was, it really felt like a world I was living in. GW2 doesn’t have that due to all the loading screens.
Another major feature that I miss with GW2 is world PvP. It was godlike in WoW, and it was fantastic in SWTOR. I love ganking and camping corpses and then battling equally leveled rivals near quest territory and I have memories I will never forget from Star Wars when I was fighting several Siths outside a temple and kept going for 30 minutes chasing each other and whatnot. Good stuff. In GW2 that doesn’t exist and there is no way of killing players, nor is there anyway of even duelling players. Are you kidding me? How can there not be a duel feature? While talking about basic features, GW2 also lacks face-to-face trading, player inspection and faster queues for PvP and WvWvW. So the game is far, far from perfection in even basic terms.
GW2 is a special product. It is the first wave of a new era and that era might be coming too soon for many. There are some fantastic and epic moments in the game just as there are some very dull and disappointing moments, such as fighting the last boss. No one in the world can be happy with how it ended. I think GW2 is either a love or hate it relationship. The story is rather poor in my eyes, compared to SWTOR I am not entangled at like I was there, and it just flies by in weird paces and with forgettable characters. If you want to tackle GW2, throw pretty much everything you expect from an MMO out of the window. There are no raids and no regular “end game” content as many are used to. Instead there are events and PvP in massive scales. And if you just want to PvP, you can choose to do that as it scales you to level 80 immediately – which is a nice touch. But for $59.99 you’ll get far over hundreds of hours of entertainment on only one character. And the game will only keep growing and improving further adding to its value. However, despite all these nice things you expect more from an MMO. I mean, Star Wars: The Old Republic kept me playing every day nonstop for over five months.
Rating: 7.5 out 10